Litterfall and leaf decomposition in forest fragments under different successional phases on the Atlantic Plateau of the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Keywords:biomass, nutrient cycling, secondary forest, tropical forest
AbstractLitterfall and litter decomposition are vital processes in tropical forests because they regulate nutrient cycling. Nutrient cycling can be altered by forest fragmentation. The Atlantic Forest is one of the most threatened biomes in the world due to human occupation over the last 500 years. This scenario has resulted in fragments of different size, age and regeneration phase. To investigate differences in litterfall and leaf decomposition between forest successional phases, we compared six forest fragments at three different successional phases and an area of mature forest on the Atlantic Plateau of Sao Paulo, Brazil. We sampled litter monthly from November 2008 to October 2009. We used litterbags to calculate leaf decomposition rate of an exotic species, Tipuana tipu (Fabaceae), over the same period litter sampling was performed. Litterfall was higher in the earliest successional area. This pattern may be related to the structural properties of the forest fragments, especially the higher abundance of pioneer species, which have higher productivity and are typical of early successional areas. However, we have not found significant differences in the decomposition rates between the studied areas, which may be caused by rapid stabilization of the decomposition environment (combined effect of microclimatic conditions and the decomposers activities). This result indicates that the leaf decomposition process have already been restored to levels observed in mature forests after a few decades of regeneration, although litterfall has not been entirely restored. This study emphasizes the importance of secondary forests for restoration of ecosystem processes on a regional scale.
How to Cite
Vendrami, J. L., Jurinitz, C. F., Castanho, C. de T., Lorenzo, L., & Oliveira, A. A. de. (2012). Litterfall and leaf decomposition in forest fragments under different successional phases on the Atlantic Plateau of the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Biota Neotropica, 12(3). Retrieved from //www.biotaneotropica.org.br/BN/article/view/1017